The Alliance of the East: China-Russia Military Relations

IITM CSC Article #65
20 August 2013
The Alliance of the East: China-Russia Military Relations
The Sino Russian Peace Mission 2013 has commenced under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Ural mountainous region. The Peace Mission 2013 is a military drill that involves 1500 troops along with military hardware that includes aircrafts and helicopters. The Mission will be conducted from from July 27 to August 15 and has three phases; firstly, troop deployment (focusing on the deployment of Chinese forces since Russia’s participating troops are from the region); secondly, battle planning and lastly, simulated combat. Joint military exercises under the code named “Peace Mission” have happened previously, some with the participation of other SCO members. The objective of the Peace Mission 2013 as revealed by the two sides is to tackle terror and to ensure stability in the region. It follows in the path of previous such missions that aimed at deterring and striking the “three evil forces”, namely terrorism, extremism and separatism.
China and Russia have been very active in the politics of the Asia Pacific region. They have been considered big powers in the region and also as balancers for the West. With the growing ties between the two countries reaching new heights, there are debates on the motives of these two powers and questions on their actions over the past few years. Both nations have been collaborating in efforts to bring about peace and stability in Central Asia and in Asia Pacific. Their military relations have grown strong adding to new naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean. The world may be witnessing the dawn of an Eastern Alliance.
While Russia and China have been actively involved in such missions since 2005, the participation of other members of the SCO has been poor. Looking beyond the facts of the anti-terror mission, questions have been raised with regard to the underlying motives of China and Russia, the two dominant powers in the SCO. Though China and Russia have had joint military exercises before, this year it has become stronger with joint naval exercises between both sides. According to Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, the military drill is aimed at improving the combat effectiveness and readiness of navies from the two countries. Since China and Russia are strong countries in the Asia Pacific region, such military exercises could help in cooperation and prepare them to face security threats. There is a belief that the two nations may be preparing for a broader scenario in the Central Asia region. The new great game in Central Asia may soon witness the military alliance of Russia and China succeeding the role of NATO and the US in the region especially in Afghanistan, therefore raising the possibility of a new imperialist policy in the region.
Addressing the 86th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, Defense Minister Chang Wanquan stressed on the defensive nature of China’s military strategy. He emphasised that the joint military exercises were to safeguard the interests of both nations and to promote regional stability. Though the mission is considered to be an example to other nations in the region, there are a few who beg to differ. It is looked upon as a strategy to threaten other nations especially the nations contending in the South China Sea. This has also raised concerns sending mixed signals to Japan and other countries in the Asia Pacific region.
The constant standoff between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands has created an air of suspicion over the Sea of Japan. The “Joint Sea 2013”according to Ding Yiping, deputy commander of the Chinese Navy, is the largest joint military maneuver in the region by two nations. The mission is not aimed at third parties but is clear in sending awareness on the growing ties between two of the strongest nations in the Asia Pacific region.
Geraldine Smith,
Independent Researcher
Article PDF: